Despite the president’s proclivity for shattering democratic norms like they’re a fragile vase, some members of the media really want everything to go back to normal. And so they gather up the fragments, superglue the vase back together and fill it with fresh water and flowers.
Never mind the leaks it’s sprung.
One school of thought, here embodied by Vanity Fair’s T.A. Frank and Politico’s Zachary Karabell, finds comfort in the idea that Trump, stymied by his own ineptitude, has done little of substance and probably isn’t all that scary. Another school, to which Van Jones and Tom Brokaw belong, was overjoyed the president was acting so darn presidential. Amusingly, Jones was convinced he’d witnessed the transmutation of lead into gold during Trump’s speech to Congress.
Over at Medium, Amy Siskind has done a wonderful and consistent job of reminding us that we can’t normalize what’s happening here. Prima facie, we get the sense that at least a cohort of the chattering classes are doing just that, rationalizing hey, sure, Donald Trump is unpredictable, boorish and vindictive, but he’s the president for Pete’s sake, and the president can’t be all that bad.
Or is this self-preservation? Are media elites scrambling to put themselves in enviable positions when the Trump administration’s repression of the Fourth Estate intensifies? Too often, the cocktail circuit crew’s main concern is social climbing, which requires staying in the good graces of those in power.
Or does the political media get bored with the truth so readily that after 41 days, they need a new angle to keep them engaged? It needs a constant struggle to see what is in front of one’s nose, after all.
Whatever the root cause, their vicissitudinal shift from adversarial to reservedly fawning is already having an impact on the administration’s behavior. The revised travel ban, originally slated for its grand debut today, was rescheduled to some time in the near future so Trump can ride the wave of good press.
(Year Zero/Day Forty-One)